Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘save’

October 8, 2008

Good news: Disney grant helps with pelican crisis

A big thanks to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) for its $5,000 emergency grant to IBRRC to help pay for rehabilitating the injured pelicans found along the coast of California.

IBRRC was overwhelmed with hundreds of injured Brown Pelicans this summer at both California bird centers. Most were brought in for hook and fishing line entanglement injuries as they competed with local fishermen in the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay areas.

The cost of feeding the pelicans will cost more than $35,000. The public also stepped up to help. If you have a couple of extra bucks, please help as you can: Donate or Adopt-a-Pelican

The Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund (DWCF) was established in 1995 as a global awards program for the study and protection of the world’s wildlife and ecosystems. It provides annual awards to US nonprofit conservation organizations working alongside their peers in other countries. Many of the recipient organizations concentrate their activities on “biological hotspots” — areas rich in plant and animal life at risk of imminent destruction. Read more

August 22, 2008

Pelican response update: Current numbers

The influx of pelicans from Santa Cruz and Monterey areas has slowed down at IBRRC’s two bird rescue centers. The most recent birds are mostly fishing tackle injuries from the Santa Cruz/Monterey area and have problems as we assume many have been injured for days or weeks and coming into the center in poor condition. At the San Pedro center, we’re still getting a more regular flow of pelicans, about ten a week.

And there’s more good news, dedicated staff and volunteers have worked hard to rehabilitate these remarkable birds. Many have been released back into the wild. (See photo above)

Since June 15th IBRRC has taken in more than 150 endangered brown pelicans. Between the two California bird centers, 339 birds have been cared for since the beginning of 2008.

Here’s the current numbers:

Current totals in house: 87

Cordelia: 50
San Pedro: 37

Total Fishing tackle injuries: 125

Cordelia: 75
San Pedro: 50

Total Released: 140

Cordelia: 66
San Pedro: 74

Total intakes in 2008: 339

Cordelia: 164
San Pedro: 175

As always, IBRRC is appealing for public support to help us pay the ENORMOUS fish bill for this response. It will easily hit $40,000 by the month’s end.

Thanks to all who already supported our efforts!

Media reports:

Santa Cruz Sentinel: Pelican injuries take a toll

Also see the video

San Jose Mercury News story

August 2, 2008

Starving young pelican numbers grow: Help!

The number of young pelicans sick and starving arriving at IBRRC’s two bird centers continues to grow.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s executive director, has issued a plea to the public for help in treating these birds. The fish bill alone is at least $750 a day between the two centers. You can help by adopting a pelican or becoming a pelican partner to assist us in our long-term support for these endangered animals. Read his urgent appeal

More than 150 pelicans have been delivered to the Cordelia/Fairfield and San Pedro Centers in the past six weeks. Dedicated staff and the wonderful volunteers at both centers continue to assist these wonderful birds.

Most of the birds are weak due to lack of food and some have more serious injuries, according to Holcomb. He says it’s not uncommon for the centers to treat ailing pelicans during the summer months. This year the numbers are definitely up and partly this can be attributed a successful nesting season for pelicans in the Channel Islands.

Some good news

The good news today is that some of the earlier arrivals have been stabilized with fish and TLC and are being released. Six California Brown Pelicans were turned back to the wild Saturday afternoon at Fort Baker’s Horseshoe Cove in Sausalito.

Media reports:

Influx of rescued pelicans in California: ABC News

Pelicans nursed back to health: Vacaville Reporter

Pelicans released back to the wild: The Daily Breeze photos

July 25, 2008

Sick and hungry pelicans flooding bird centers

It’s another busy summer season for the staff and volunteers at Bird Rescue as sick and starving young pelicans arrive for treatment at both California centers. Since June nearly 100 pelicans have been transferred to the bird rescue centers – one in San Pedro and the other in Fairfield, CA – to be given the best possible care.

Starting in May 2008 an overwhelming number of pelicans competed with fishermen for large quantities of schooling fish in Northern California – especially in the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay areas. We began receiving an extraordinary influx of pelicans with entanglement, fish hook and tackle injuries. We were receiving 10-12 birds a day until California Fish and Game stepped in to close the local piers to fishing.

The influx of pelicans was taxing our centers, as the San Pedro facility was also receiving unusually large
numbers of pelicans in their clinic. Our fish bill alone climbed to nearly $40,000. To help defray the cost of caring for the pelicans, Bird Rescue is asking for the public’s help. Donate

You can also become a Pelican Partner. With a donation of $1,000, you will have the chance to tour one of our California wildlife centers and help to release one of our patients back into the wild. This experience offers supporters a special opportunity to see a seabird getting its final medical exam and numbered leg band, and the once-in-a-lifetime honor of opening the cage at the release site as your partner pelican takes its first steps into the open and soars away.


Luckily this year Bird Rescue completed construction of a new 100-foot pelican aviary at its Fairfield, CA bird center. The aviary allows pelicans to recuperate in large comfortable setting. It has two large pools and perches for the birds to fly back and forth to stretch their wings. The aviary was completed with funds from the Green Foundation and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN). The San Pedro center has had a pelican aviary since it opened in 2001.

How to help: Adopt-a-Pelican

More information on Pelicans in Peril

Found a bird? How to handle a sick or injured pelican or other aquatic birds.

March 13, 2008

Want to help more birds? Donate your old car

Do you have an old car that you’d like put to good use? Then please donate it to IBRRC.

We just linked up again with a car donation program that will take your car, sell it auction and donate the proceeds to our general operating fund. And you get a tax write-off for your good deed.

To learn more, please visit our Car Donation page on the IBRRC website.

December 1, 2007

With proactive capture and quick care, oiled birds CAN be rehabilitated

Special message from Jay Holcomb, IBRRC, Executive Director:

Hello friends and supporters,

First I want to say thank you to all of you who have donated to our efforts. Secondly, I want to answer some questions that have I have been asked recently, by the media and concerned people, to set the record straight. My time is limited so I will start with one question and add more as I can.

1. Do rehabilitated birds in oil spills survive once they have been released?

I wish I had a yes or no answer but it just is not that simple. The truth is that, yes, many have a very good chance of survival. We have documented many survival stories but it is very difficult to follow up on sea birds that live in colonies in remote areas and who basically look the same except for little silver bands on one leg. In most cases we receive less than a 1% return rate on banded birds and especially sea birds that live in colonies that sometimes range in the millions. But we are always working to establish and apply any post release studies that we can. Some of the best “post release” information to date has come from the ongoing study of bird species that are just plain easier to study; Snowy plovers, African Penguins that live in predictable areas and waterfowl that are hunted to name a few.

Oiled Penguins

In 2000 IBRRC, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), based in Cape Town, South Africa, joined forces to rehabilitate 21,000 African Penguins. The birds were oiled when the bulk carrier, Treasure, sunk between two large and important penguin colonies on Dassen and Robben Islands off the Cape Town coast.

Collectively our team turned a vacant train warehouse and six surrounding acres into an oiled penguin rehabilitation center. Within three months, using our proven oiled bird rehabilitation methods, we released 19,500 healthy viable penguins back into their colonies. It was truly a miracle and we were as astonished as anyone that we were able to accomplish this under great odds. Every released penguin was flipper tagged and birds have been studied aggressively since that time. All post release studies have shown that these birds have survived, and reproduced equal to non-oiled penguins.

The rehabilitation of oiled penguins is now considered by Cape Nature Conservation as one of the most important management tools used in the survival plan of this vulnerable species. These findings can be found on the group’s website and I strongly suggest you read them.

Oiled Shorebirds

In 1999 IBRRC responded to the New Carissa oil spill on the Southern Oregon coast at Coos Bay. During that spill we captured and rehabilitated 32 oiled snowy plovers; a species of great concern. It is important to point out that snowy plovers are small shorebirds. Biologists and others who know little of the details in rehabilitating oiled birds believed oiled shorebirds could not be rehabilitated. This perception is completely incorrect and unfortunate.

We have successfully rehabilitated and released many healthy shorebirds; dunlin, sanderling, piping plovers and now snowy plovers. In fact, these birds do the best of many of the birds we receive, if they are captured before they become weak and sick.

Of the 32 oiled snowy plovers that we captured, washed and rehabilitated during the New Carissa oil spill, all were released as healthy birds and were studied extensively showing that their life spans and breeding activity were the same as non-oiled plovers. Once again proving that the rehabilitation of oiled shorebirds can work when they are given a chance and it is done correctly.

The most important factor in all of this is initiating a proactive and aggressive capture program before the birds get to weak and succumb to hypothermia and predators. It was exactly those factors that made people believe shorebirds could not be rehabilitated. Prior to aggressively capturing these birds, we would only get sick, weak and dying birds in the center; therefore, high mortality. However, with a proactive approach, professionals with the proper tools and capture methods, many oiled shorebirds can be captured and rehabilitated. These shorebirds do very well in rehabilitation as they are ravenous eaters and seem to handle the stress of the process very well. We typically release over 90% of the shorebirds we proactively capture in oil spills.

Oiled Waterfowl

Most of our band returns from oiled birds that were rehabilitated and released come from waterfowl. Unfortunately waterfowl are hunted; but at least we get some feedback on our released animals. This group includes all ducks and geese and hunters are supposed to return the bands.

We have had oiled rehabilitated ducks hunted years later from many places in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Utah, Nevada and Canada indicating that many survived, sometimes for many years before they were shot.

One of our most important pieces of information came from the band returns of five hunted king eiders from a spill we did in Alaska in the remote Pribilof Islands in 1996. 180 oiled king eiders were sent to our center in Anchorage for rehabilitation, a six-hour trip for these wild birds. Once rehabilitated, they took another six hour flight and were released back in the Pribilof Islands. In the following six years, five of them were hunted by local native hunters and the bands were reported. This by no means suggest that they all lived but these five birds went through the same treatment as the other 175 or so and survived indicating that this species can be rehabilitated and survive the logistical time delays that required them to travel in cages for long hours. See also: IBRRC Pribilof Spill Response Report

One other important spill was a spill on the Santa Clara River in Southern California where we captured and rehabilitated 175 very heavily oiled mallards, widgeons and other waterfowl species. Over the next six years, six of those ducks were hunted and reported. It may seem like a small number but it was significant to us, as we knew what those animals endured being covered in very heavy and thick oil. You can read about this on our web site under Band Returns/Santa Clara River spill, 1991.

There is much more to say about this topic and I will pick it up in future messages. For now I need to get back to the birds.

Thanks for reading,

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC